Hello, spellslingers and curious game fans along for the ride. Today I'll be taking a look at the latest release for Magic the Gathering: MTG Jumpstart. But, before I get to that, let's have a brief overview of MTG, for the uninitiated.
Magic: The Gathering (or MTG) is a long-running, collectable card game for two or more players. Each game represents a battle between powerful wizards, known as Planeswalkers, who have the ability to travel a multi-verse. You will discover countless worlds inhabited by species as varied as the fantastic lands they live in.
Players will cast spells, summon creatures, and deploy artefacts to overcome their opponents. Typically, a player will win by reducing their opponent’s starting life points to zero, but there are other paths to victory too.
There are many formal and casual formats of Magic: The Gathering, each with its own distinct flavour, appealing to a wide range of players.
Wizards of the Coast regularly releases expansion sets. These add hundreds of cards to the available pool. Players now have thousands of cards to collect and play within customised decks. MTG Jumpstart is one such expansion, but one that is notably different from its predecessors.
Something Completely Different
|Blessed Sanctuary||Scholar of the Lost Trove||Zurzoth, Chaos Rider|
|Brightmare||Kels, Fight Fixer||Allosaurus Shepherd|
|Emiel the Blessed||Nocturnal Feeder||Branching Evolution|
|Release the Dogs||Tinybones, Trinket Thief||Neyith of the Dire Hunt|
|Steel-Plume Marshal||Witch of the Moors||Towering Titan|
|Stone Haven Pilgrim||Chained Brute||Lightning-Core Excavator|
|Supply Runners||Immolating Gyre||Thriving Bluff|
|Trusty Retriever||Lightning Phoenix||Thriving Grove|
|Archaeomender||Lightning Visionary||Thriving Heath|
|Bruvac the Grandiloquent||Living Lightning||Thriving Isle|
|Corsair Captain||Muxus, Goblin Grandee||Zurzoth, Chaos Rider|
|Inniaz, the Gale Force||Sethron, Hurloon General||Allosaurus Shepherd|
|Ormos, Archive Keeper||Spiteful Prankster||Branching Evolution|
The rest of the set is comprised of 458 cards re-printed from older sets, or cards with alternate artwork. There are 169 cards from M21 which are also available in Jumpstart products. Jumpstart cards will not be legal to play in Standard, Modern or Pioneer formats. Arena players can only use them when playing Historic format matches.
Despite being closely tied to M21, MTG Jumpstart is a separate, standalone product, designed to play primarily as a two player variant. Its aim: introduce a new, easy, and quick way to play Magic, fusing "the best parts of Limited and Constructed".
To break that down:
'Limited' refers to formats in which players create a deck from a limited pool of cards. This will often take the form of players opening a set number of booster packs at an event. They will then build a deck with those cards for the event.
'Constructed' refers to formats in which players create a deck before they arrive at the event/game. Players have the freedom to include any cards deemed legal for the particular format (Standard, Modern, etc.)
MTG Jumpstart takes the speed of Constructed, and the feel of Limited. It is sold in mono-coloured booster packs of twenty cards. Each booster pack contains creatures and spells that share a theme, and the mana required to cast them. The concept behind MTG Jumpstart is 'shuffle and play': take two boosters and shuffle them to create a forty card deck, then play.
Sound familiar? You're not alone if that concept brings to mind the 'shuffle-building' game, Smash Up! Jumpstart is essentially the MTG spin on Smash Up! Here's a little nugget of knowledge for you. Paul Peterson, the designer of Smash Up!, previously designed MTG sets - most notably, Apocalypse (2001).
I'm not particularly taken by the MTG Jumpstart product in all honesty. In terms of what it wants to do with the gameplay, I'm not interested. Deck building is an aspect of MTG I really enjoy, even when playing in a Limited format. I like the challenge of building a deck with limited resources, against the clock - and then seeing how it stacks up against my opponents.
That said, it does provide a lot of re-prints, which are always useful, and some cool alternative artwork for some cards. Commander players will want cards like Scholar of the Lost Trove, Branching Evolution, and Bruvac the Grandiloquent. I have a Mill deck that Bruvac will slot into nicely! There is also a cycle of hybrid legendary creatures, which are pretty useful.
Exquisite Blood is a Black rare I'm particularly excited for. I like to play Vampire tribal, and Orzhov (Black/White) Lifegain decks, so that card is right in my wheel house. The new artwork on the basic lands is fun. The art reflects the themes well, and they look great.
So, not a fantastic set in terms of gameplay (in my opinion) but, as usual, there are some good cards to pick up.